Hello, and welcome to our live blog of the England v Ireland match from Twickenham. Iain will be in at around 1.30pm to bring you all the build-up and the match itself, but in the meantime have a read of our preview below…
Tom Wood insists England’s pack have resolved to “obliterate” rather than overcomplicate against Ireland in the last of their World Cup warm-up matches at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Red Rose were bullied by France up front in Paris two weeks ago and were also below-par against their RBS 6 Nations rivals seven days earlier, drawing criticism for attempting too many passes out of the tackle instead of making hard yards.
England will need their pack to be firing once again if they are to challenge for the World Cup and Wood insists they will take a more primal approach after being given a timely reminder that a forward’s role should be simplified.
The 2015 Rugby World Cup begins in
“Normally it takes a kick up the backside before you go back to the basics. You can talk about all the technical stuff in the world, but it is a mentality, ” the Northampton flanker said.
“If you are physical and abrasive, it normally takes care of itself. As soon as you start over-thinking, take your foot off the gas and hesitate, then teams can make life difficult for you.
“We have challenged ourselves to evolve and to do more around the field, to be more athletic, to handle the ball, to defend in wider spaces.
“But foremost, your bread and butter as a forward is to win set-piece ball and obliterate breakdowns. Sometimes you need reminding of that.
“You spend all week working on little fancy plays and passes and sometimes you need to remember that ‘bend over and push is your main job mate, get back to that’.
“That’s what we’ve said this week – back to basics to a degree, get that right and then start thinking about the other stuff.”
The set-piece has been a perennial source of English strength but it struggled alarmingly throughout the dire 25-20 defeat in Paris and was only marginally better in the 19-14 victory over France at Twickenham.
The line-out is in the most urgent need of repair and forwards coach Graham Rowntree has been drilling the pack in search of improvement, while calling specialist Geoff Parling has been restored to the second row to add his expertise.
“We’re very confident. Our pack has set a solid platform for sure for the past three or four years. It’s been our salvation when things haven’t gone to plan elsewhere, ” Wood said.
“It’s been something where we’re imposed ourselves on the best teams in the world and got really good change out of it. We certainly admit we’re not the finished article.